Today was our first day on the wards with the new book PATIENCE, a deep baptism. Reading these poems in the place where they first came into being, often in circumstances of great suffering, was very moving - the response from patients was powerful and generally positive, though sometimes they too were a little overwhelmed. It was as if we were finally talking about the 'elephant in the room' - everyone's relieved, but it's an awkward moment.
"It brings a new outlook from my point of view, reading this book. It makes you think of something else in life, apart from yourself. You cheer one another up." (Madeleine)
"It's terrible in here, impossible to describe. You have to live it to understand. It can help a little to hear other's experiences. A little. Please come back again and read more poems." (Douglas)
"Very good that, very true. Pass it on... It's openness. You bring things out in people, so people don't close to you... a book like this is useful to read, helps with the patience, you need a lot of patience in here." Jean
We also shared the book with staff, many of whom remembered particular people featured in the collection. As so often happens, they said that they wished they still had time to talk to the patients as we are able to do.
"The emotional side gets overlooked. Without that, you are not treating people in depth. If a patient is in the process of getting better and they have psychological or emotional problems, they won't get better as easily. To verbalise and express their problems, they feel lighter, better... If it's repressed it affects them.
Conversing with them helps. They are away from their environment, in fear. Time is a factor. Take a minute or two, take time to listen and reassure them. Reading them this book will give them an idea of what a patient can expect to go through."
(Staff Nurse Mioji Baloguh)
On E1 the Stroke ward, we read poems to patients Madge and Marjorie, who commented:
"You feel very shaky and that, not kind of with it, you can't vision yourself. This book, it gives other people something of what you feel like."
A daughter, visiting her mother who'd had a stroke two weeks ago, said:
"The book would be nice for when they start recovering and can start reading - if they can't put their feelings into their own words, they could use the book to help." (Amanda)
We hope that PATIENCE will be helpful on the wards, a conversation opener, a comforter and perhaps a communication aid as Amanda describes. There's a point when a book, having been published, makes its own way, separate from the the makers. As we put PATIENCE out into the world, it is now starting to do just that, to have its identity inscribed by its readers.